Telling Healthcare Stories via Multiple Media

February 15, 2013
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The most amazing example of new journalism was forwarded to me the end of last year. The NYTimes produced a piece entitled, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek that was like no other piece of mass market journalism I’ve seen to date. WIRED magazine’s tablet issue has also pulled in multiple mediums in similar fashion, but I do not believe on the same scale, and with animation tied directly to the text, in the same way.

The most amazing example of new journalism was forwarded to me the end of last year. The NYTimes produced a piece entitled, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek that was like no other piece of mass market journalism I’ve seen to date. WIRED magazine’s tablet issue has also pulled in multiple mediums in similar fashion, but I do not believe on the same scale, and with animation tied directly to the text, in the same way. The video that follows is from the Snow Fall piece–one element within the online story, along with additional video, animation and graphics that not only tells the tale of that fateful day, but also takes the reader on a visual tour of Tunnel Creek, following the path of the snowboarders and skiers as they make their way to, up and down the mountain.

This is the form, and an example of the multiple skill sets, telling stories of the future will require. As a result, what is in store for all of us as readers/viewers is exciting. A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling by Andrea Phillips, sits nearby on my desk, waiting for a few free moments to be read so I can learn some of these new techniques. I’ll be sure to review it for our ETY readers, as the million dollar question for me is: How can we in healthcare best embrace the marriage of multiple storytelling mediums along with the available technology to share stories that encourage healing and wellness–both mental and physical?

Some, like Jane McGonigal, TEDTalk alum, game designer and recovered head trauma patient, has found that many people believe reality to be so broken that they turn to the stories within good games to find ways to heal and then face the world. Her book, Reality is Broken, is another on my 2013 reading list. In healthcare, we are gifted with the opportunity to be with people at times they are most broken, and the ability to share stories of those who have been through similar illness or trauma can provide a lifeline not currently taught in health science training. Whatever the extent to which you believe reality is broken, its imperfections and boundaries give us material to work with as we craft stories that help others relate to one another and gain strength once again. Add a dash or two of good stories and storytelling technique to health prevention messaging–which research has already shown can influence health behavior (see The Power of Storytelling in Medicine) — and maybe we can keep people out of the hospital altogether.